Introducing…Thai Curry in Korea

My mother Janice, a culinary queen and genius, frequently sends me recipes she has discovered and tested out. She does this forgetting that buttermilk, basil, beets and most familiar ingredients do not exist in my small, foreign town.  This has left me to search for alternatives.  In the beginning, it was two-hour bus rides into Seoul, 30 minutes on the subway, and I’d arrive at the international food marts. Aside from the exuberant prices, it always made for a grand adventure.  Following these quests, I carried back cans of salsa and black olives, fresh herbs, bags of legumes and large blocks of cheese to share sparingly. Despite the bountiful gains, this soon exhausted me and left my pockets empty.

So, I surrendered and now mostly eat  and buy locally.

A trip to the supermarket has always been therapeutic to me.  Whole Foods and Sunflower Market were my remedial dwellings after a long day of molding young minds. When the day was over, I looked forward to perusing the aisles of fresh, organic produce.  I sometimes would spend over two hours just wandering around, weaving in and out of the aisles with my headphones on.  Tuning out the world around me, I would get lost in the perfect pyramids of limes, lemons and oranges, inhale their invigorating citrus scent, and move along to the heaps of honeydew and the bunches of sprouts and spinach.

The lovely Sinch Mart ladies

Here, my trips to the market serve the same purpose, but the atmosphere is a tad bit different (Mostly, I refer to the funky kimchyish odors lingering about) The aisles are lined with ramyen and packaged Korean snacks. Doritos doused with chili spice, fish flavored Cheetos, and garlic toasts that leave a sugary aftertaste.  You will find fish, hot pepper and soy sauces, and a special aisle dedicated to canned fruit, meat, and larvae.  Of course, you have your paper goods and house hold cleaning aisle (which you can decipher by the handy pictures), and your baking section.  You’ll also find limited boxes of pricey Post cereals beside a collection of herbal and medicinal green teas.

In the freezer section, Amy’s frozen organic TV dinners do not exist, nor do hot pockets or waffles and pancakes.  In their place you will find mandu dumplings, fish, strange cuts of meat, whole chickens and odd mysterious seafoods.  In the refrigerator section, you can usually find items which I can neither pronounce nor identify, along with soy milk, Danon yogurt and unnaturally fortified juices.  The only goods I have found to be cheap, dependable and safe are the fresh vegetables and fruit.  I look forward to the tented outdoor market that takes place twice a week in the “heart” of town, which enables me to purchase from local farmers and vendors.  But, how would I ever feed my craving for Janice’s Italian pot roast without my canned tomatoes and basil?  Or, indulge in a veggie burrito without tortillas?

 Well, my best friend, Lisa Pollack, who happens to be a culinary goddess and fellow ESL teacher, has created a webpage of wonder.  The site aims to make life for expat foodies living in Korea a little bit easier.  Her site, Thai Curry in Korea captures her trials and tribulations while cooking foreign food in Korea.  She includes a list of places to find international ingredients (including websites that deliver these goodies), along with clever recipes and secrets to making Mom’s homemade stew even though far from home and faced with a lack of essentials.

Don’t get me wrong, Korean food has been one of the highlights of living abroad, but when I’m homesick, or want a dish with an absence of fermented chili paste, I frequently visit her site to bring me a little closer to home.

This week, I’m guest blogging on her site.  Click here to read all about the “crunchy” birthday treat I made for my friend, Jay, along with a step by step recipe to follow for your own enjoyment!


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. mama wooden
    Jul 12, 2012 @ 11:21:01

    Another great blog. thanks for the compliments!…………….Mama Wooden


  2. Linda Diefendorf
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 02:44:39

    Do we have a budding writer in our midst? Linda


  3. Jillian Mckee
    Aug 02, 2012 @ 05:32:07


    I have a quick question about your blog, do you think you could e-mail me?



  4. 通販 シューズ
    Sep 24, 2013 @ 18:40:01

    tシャツ 型紙


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